Mara holds degrees from Hampshire College (B.A. 1994), a Diploma in Jewish Studies from Oxford University (1996), and Stanford University (Ph.D. 2005). Her field of specialization is modern Jewish thought. Before coming to St. Olaf in 2008, she held the Hazel D. Cole Fellowship in Jewish Studies at the University of Washington (2004-2005) and the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Postdoctoral Fellowship in Judaic Studies at Yale University (2005-2008). She has also taught at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and in a variety of non-academic settings. Areas of scholarly and teaching interest include Jewish textual traditions and practices, including biblical, rabbinic, and contemporary hermeneutics; modern European Jewish history and thought; and feminist theology. Current and past courses include
- Torah, Midrash, Gospel: The Bible Between Judaism and Christianity
- Law and Spirit
- God After Auschwitz
- Theology and Sexuality
- Introduction to Judaism
- Judaism’s Bible
- Jewish and Christian Feminisms
- Negotiating Religion and State
- Modern Jewish Thought
- Theology of Food
- Jews and Christians After Christendom
Mara’s first book, Rosenzweig’s Bible: Reinventing Scripture for Jewish Modernity (Cambridge, 2009), examines the theological and political stakes of the endeavor to reinvigorate Jewish intellectual and social responses to the Bible, focusing on the work of Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929), one of the most important Jewish religious thinkers of the modern period. She is the author of several articles, including “Building a Zion in German(y): Franz Rosenzweig on Yehuda Halevi” (Jewish Social Studies 13:2) and “The Tacit Agenda of a Literary Approach to the Bible” (Prooftexts 27) . Her current book is titled The Obligated Self: Maternal Subjectivity and Jewish Thought. She received a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend (2013) and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (2014-15) to work on this project.
Mara has served on the Association for Jewish Studies Women’s Caucus and as the modern Judaism section editor for Religious Studies Review.
Mara is on sabbatical during the 2014-15 academic year.